Covid Messages from Russell

Messages from Russell – 16 Feb 2021

February 16, 2021

Meet the Western Public Health Unit.

Today I want to introduce the Western Public Health Unit. These are our colleagues and they are primarily based on site at Sunshine Hospital in what used to be the maternity outpatients clinic.

You may not have been aware that the Unit has been involved for some weeks now in undertaking and supporting contact tracing for cases with links to our region. Their contact tracing work is complex and time consuming and I know that often they are working long hours to resolve issues and protect our staff and community. You may not have been aware of this because the team in true Western Health style, have been recruited to (although this is continuing as we add more team members), came on board, got stuck in and are doing great work delivering Best Care!

The Western Public Health Unit is another way we’re working hard to help protect our community during the pandemic.

The Unit’s Director is Dr Finn Romanes, who has many years’ experience in epidemiology and public health. Finn spent all of last year addressing some of the toughest challenges facing the Department of Health as they responded to COVID. He is very well placed to provide strong leadership and clinical expertise for the work of the Unit.

Dr Finn Romanes

Finn is being supported by a colleague known to all of us as our Director of COVID-19 Response, Kate Cranwell, who is also working on the establishment of the Western Public Health Unit.

Kate Cranwell and Dr Finn Romanes

The Unit is also joined by a number of talented public health leaders from across Victoria, including Dr Charles Alpren who had worked at the Department, Dr Michael Birrell who has led work at Austin Health and Dr Chris Drummond.

Dr Charles Alpren                                              

Dr Michael Birrell

Dr Chris Drummond with Dr Charles Alpren

The Victorian Department of Health decided late last year that Western Health would host the Western Public Health Unit, on behalf of all health services in our cluster. The cluster includes Western Health, Melbourne Health, the Women’s, Peter Mac, the Royal Children’s Hospital, Mercy Werribee and Djerriwarrh Health Services, as well as several private hospitals.

As previously mentioned the unit is currently playing an important role in supporting the contact tracing efforts during the ‘Holiday Inn outbreak’. In fact, about 75 per cent of the exposure sites identified to date during the outbreak fall into our catchment. The community and regional knowledge of our team is of considerable benefit in this regard.

A number of the staff who are now in the Western Public Health Unit will be familiar to many of you as they have worked for a number of years with Western Health. Debbie Mead has taken up the administrative role. Debbie has been with Western Health for 22 years. She was previously patient management team leader in outpatients – adult specialist clinics.

Debbie Mead

Tom Barnett is now a top notch contact tracer. Tom previously worked in Western Health’s Aged Care Assessment Service.

Tom Barnett

Alison Schweikert and Daniel Sheehan are also members of the Western Public Health Unit contact tracing team (and there are more fantastic staff who were working on evening shifts and we were not able to capture for this bulletin!).

Alison Schweikert and Daniel Sheehan

To learn more about the Western Public Health Unit, please tune into this afternoon’s 2pm Zoom CEO Webinar by clicking on this link and here are the codes if needed:

Meeting ID: 950 2083 4106

Passcode: 653976

I will provide a brief overview of the Unit and Dr Finn Romanes and Kate Cranwell will be joining the webinar and will be available to answer your questions.

I am sure you will join me in welcoming new and familiar faces to this important service and great opportunity for Western Health to support our communities.